This past weekend was my son's baptism, which is an important moment for Armenian families, not just because of its religious significance, but also as a milestone where a new generation is welcomed into an extended family. It's a moment that imposes a pause in our busy lives and forces reflection.
In the case of Armenian families, part of the indirect but inherent reflection is about the long multigenerational road traveled that includes tragic experiences of families torn apart by genocide and survival for the lucky few, and then dispersion to multiple countries trying to get economically established to provide basic necessities and education for the young. Then the continued immigration to America and our deepening roots as multigenerational American families.
I used to be of the mind that when told I had to go to a baptism, I would roll my eyes with a big sigh and say, "Please, not another baptism." As I've gotten older (but not so old as to start saying "When I was your age…") I've come to look at these moments differently.
These are the rare occasions when family and friends have the opportunity to come together, sometimes from far distances, to reconnect. It's an opportunity to reflect on our family history and bonds, remember the past and anticipate the exciting future for the coming generation.
In my son's case, Grandma Keghanoush, who is a schoolteacher in Glendale Unified, has set the bar high with the baby jumpsuit T-shirt she bought little Ari that says "Harvard, Class of 20??" on the front.
The baptism was conducted in St. Garabed Armenian Church in Hollywood, which is in Little Armenia. It's the church where Ari's great-grandmother first attended church upon arriving here many decades ago; it's where my wife and I were married; and now it's the church where he was been baptized, blocks away from the hospital where he was born. These are little details, but ones that create a family history.
We were very fortunate because, witnessing the baptism and the celebration afterward, we had four generations of family present from across the U.S. That is a rare moment in life, and the memories created will be appreciated even more in the future.
These early moments in my son's life play a formative role, but more than in the traditional sense. He is already mesmerized when his great-grandmother and both sets of grandparents sing to him, and I look forward to sharing the photos and videos of those moments with him in the future to give him an appreciation for the extended family that has surrounded him, nurtured him, loved him and given him his values. But these moments are equally important and nurturing for all those who took the time to be present.
While technology has helped families and friends stay more connected over distances to share the photos and videos of these life milestones, there is no substitute for being present in the moment. Life has become so busy, with time as the most precious commodity, that it takes great effort to participate in these types of family gatherings, much less organize them.
The path of least resistance is to recoil into our individual lives, and I'm often guilty of having those feelings. I know I'm not alone. But after experiencing these life moments in person, I'm always reminded of the value of the effort and making the time to show up.
So the next time you have the reaction I often do and say to yourself "Not another baptism," "Not another wedding," or "not another graduation," stop yourself. Then think again about the importance of not only that moment, but even more importantly how participating in that moment will enrich your life by rejuvenating the connections between you and your circle of family and friends. Those are things that are priceless.
Zanku Armenian is a resident of Glendale and a corporate communications professional. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.